'As far as their bullets can reach': Israel-Palestine descends into a fresh wave of violence

Published September 23rd, 2016 - 02:28 GMT
Palestinian students in checkered keffiyehs holding axes. (photo: AFP)
Palestinian students in checkered keffiyehs holding axes. (photo: AFP)

Six Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces in the past seven days, as Israel and the West Bank descend once again into a wave of violence. The six were slain while allegedly trying to attack Israelis: there have been 10 such attacks or attempted attacks since last Friday, according to Israeli authorities. Most have occurred in the Jerusalem and Hebron areas.  

The uptick in violence comes after a three- to four-month lull; the so-called “knife intifada,” which has claimed the lives of 230 Palestinians and 35 Israelis since Oct. 2015, was thought to have tapered off.

Turns out, it hasn’t. In the absence of a peace process, in the face of continued settlement construction in the West Bank and near-daily raids into their cities and towns and refugee camps, Palestinians are still as desperate as ever, and their desperation has once again boiled over into the streets.  

The international community appears to have little interest in helping them in their fight for sovereignty. On Sept. 14, the US signed a contract that pledged $38 billion for Israel over the next ten years; it was the largest such aid package in US history.   

Meanwhile, in a speech to the United Nations on Thursday, Netanyahu claimed that he “remain[ed] committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two peoples.” But on the Palestinian street, few believe him. “The Israelis have no interest in peace,” a 67-year-old resident of Qalandiya Refugee Camp told Al Bawaba English on Thursday. “They’ll grab as much land as they can, as far as their bullets can reach.”

This coming summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, when Israel took Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. Although international law prohibits countries from transferring civilian populations onto occupied land, there are now about half a million Jewish settlers living over the Green Line, where they enjoy privileges of which their Arab neighbors can only dream.

Obama told Netanyahu this week that the settlements were threatening a two-state solution, but Bibi knows Obama will be out of office soon, and anyway has little reason to fear that America will do more than slap him on the wrist for continued settlement expansion. In the past, the US has been loathe to punish Israel for flouting international law, and there’s no indication that that will change its policies anytime soon.

In the meantime, Israel may feel that a handful of attacks now and then is a small price to pay if it gets to keep the Biblical lands of “Judea and Samaria” in return, land it believes was promised by God to the Jewish people. And so it will continue to methodically crush the Palestinians, bit by bloody bit, but the Palestinians have shown they won’t go quietly.

-Hunter Stuart


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